Hello ! Who are you and what are you working on?
I'm a self taught web developer, I started hacking together websites when I was 13, I've always been tinkering building things online. I have worked at several startups and run a software agency for the past 5 years, we bootstrapped Payhere within our agency and are now going full time on it. With Payhere you can setup recurring, one-off or donation payments in minutes without writing a line of code. It's perfect for services businesses who want to bill their clients online and startups who want to charge for their product without wasting weeks building payments integrations.
What motivated you to get started with? How did you come up with the idea?
In our agency we where building lots of MVPs for startups, we kept building out the same payments infrastructure over and over, things like custom receipts, retry logic, customer dashboards, webhooks etc.
We wanted to build a complete payments system that could be integrated in minutes rather than days or weeks.
Can you tell us the story of your business from idea to where you are now?
We built an early prototype at the start of 2018 and had a few test customers throughout the year. In 2019 we joined the ignite pre-accelerator, a local program to help startups find their early customers and scale their business. In Feb of 2019 we launched on Product Hunt, coming #4 for the day and gaining a lot of signups. From there throughout 2019 we grew to over 500 signups and in the later months of the year really started gaining momentum and making some revenue.
In 2020 we have seen more solid growth and although the numbers are still small we are growing each month and have been accepted onto Ignite's later stage accelerator program which started last week. Both Scott and myself are now taking the jump to go full time on Payhere and scale the product.
What has been your biggest failure or struggle?
Our product is applicable to a lot of businesses, it has been a struggle to find our ideal customer and market the product, we are still quite broad but we have narrowed it down to small 0-10 employee services businesses who want to switch from manually chasing invoices, to automated online payments, and early-stage startups who are seeking to charge their first customers.
And what has been your biggest achievement or success?
I think the first time we got paid for our product was pretty special, I've run a services business for many years selling my time, it was awesome to see someone pay for a product that didn't directly involve me being around. We are now making money off many transactions, it's very special to wake up in the morning and see something you have made make money while you are sleeping.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
We use intercom for customer support, we try to be as responsive and helpful as possible, if you can help someone out quickly you have a good chance that person will stick around.
Describe the process of launching the business.
We built the proof of concept and launched to some test customers to get feedback and make sure everything worked, from there we tried to find more customers and scale, it was really useful being around likeminded businesses on the Ignite program to run ideas by them and see how they were approaching marketing and customer acquisition. We have shipped a lot of products for customers over the years in our agency, so that part came natural to us, whereas the marketing aspect was more difficult.
Did you use Betalist or PH or other Startup Launching Platform for Launching ? How was that experience ?
Our main launch was on Product Hunt, it took a lot of effort that day to promote, it was a little out of my comfort zone, DM'ing pretty much all of my twitter followers and asking for upvotes, but it was worth it in the end to get all that publicity and being in that position I am happy to receive similar requests from others and help them out.
What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?
Our basic plan is 2% per transaction + gateway fee's, this takes away a lot of resistance for people wanting to use the platform, they don't need to pay anything unless they make money themselves. For larger volume businesses where 2% might be a lot we offer an enterprise plan starting at $299/month where we can remove our transaction fee and provide additional support.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles you’ve overcome? What are your goals for the future?
Development is what I know and comes naturally, it's been very hard to step away from that and focus on other areas such as marketing and knowing our customers, honestly though, it's all the non-development work that really pays off and where we start to see growth from. Having a great product is a good start, but having that alone will get you nowhere.
Let’s talk about your marketing strategy -- how do you market Payhere and grow the service?
We are doing great, we have had steady growth in the last year and we are really starting to get somewhere. Last month we processed over £56,000 in payments and set to continue that growth this month. We can't wait to keep improving the product and getting more customers on board, it feels great to have built something used by so many people, I look forward to turning that into a highly profitable business and growing a talented team around us to work on it.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Product is hard, like exponentially harder than selling your time, the rewards for it are also much greater and you can see why everyone chases the dream. When you hear a lot of success stories you often think they are overnight successes, but in reality many of them have been trying, failing and learning for many years before they get successful. My biggest takeaway is perseverance is key, keep working hard every day to market and grow your product.
Who’s your most inspirational CEO or founder?
I find the guys at transistor.fm very inspirational, they have a podcast 'build your saas' that they have recorded weekly since first starting their business, it's been motivational to listen along through their journey and they are now running a successful product company.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Build your SaaS as mentioned above. Accidental tech podcast has also been great especially more recently as all of the guys have been doing indie app development with some levels of success. Startups for the rest of us (podcast) has also been very inspirational with their Q+As.
What’s your advice for fellow aspiring entrepreneur who are just starting out?
Talk to customers and validate your product as early as possible. If you can be niche, be as niche as possible, a really specific customer will be much easier to target and sell to, we have learnt this first hand and started out too broad. If you have a really specific customer you can talk to them, find their pain points and write copy just for that one person, your product should feel like it was designed just for them.